Article 1: Social networking for undergraduate students

Title: Social media and microbiology education

Author: Vincent R. Racaniello

Journal: PLoS Pathogens

Publication date: October 2010

Social media is unavoidable on college campuses. Students are constantly looking for the latest news from their peers and the world through the use of facebook, twitter, blogs and internet portals. A quick look at Alexa’s top 25 sites on the web gives us Facebook as the most popular site in the world (no. 2 in the US), followed by YouTube, Yahoo!, Twitter and LinkedIn a little further down, as well as Blogspot and WordPress. The analytics reveal that many users access these websites at school.

Alexa's entry for Facebook

The most popular site in the world is primarily accessed at schools.

In his paper, Vincent Racaniello proposes to use these digital tools to facilitate learning. He talks about his experiences with blogging and podcasting- which are very similar to the model we’re following in this class. Racaniello wished to reach a large number of students of Microbiology, and so he began writing a blog covering news stories about viruses, as well as the results of his research. The social aspect of the blog was in the comments- visitors often developed a dialogue inspired by Racaniello’s posts. Later, he added weekly podcasts with expert hosts to the mix to further support student learning. His approach was consistent with many NETS standard. He inspired learning and creativity by engaging with students (high school, college, graduate and medical, colleagues and the general public in a virtual environment (NETS-T 1 (d). He also adapted the learning experience to a digital tool to promote student learning, reaching NETS-T 2 (a). He demonstrated fluency in digital technologies and communicated effectively using two different digital formats, which covers NETS-T 3 (a) and (c). Finally, he was a leader in building his digital learning community, which covers NETS-T 5 (b).

Although Racaniello used blogging and podcasting primarily for the benefit of the general public, instructors could certainly follow his example when designing their own course.

Reference:

Racaniello, V. (2010). Social media and microbiology education. PloS Pathogens, 6(10): e1001095. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001095

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